Quality of Research
Welsh School of Pharmacy
Research Assessment Exercise (2008)
|Unit of Assessment||Staff submitted (FTE)||By percentage, research activity in the submission judged to reach quality standard|
(Overall quality profile in blocks of 5%)
|Institution||% Research 4* and 3*|
|University of Nottingham||80|
|University of Manchester||70|
|School of Pharmacy||65|
|University of Bath||60|
|King's College London||55|
|Queen's University Belfast||55|
|University of Bradford||55|
|University of East Anglia||55|
|University of Strathclyde||55|
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The School is the centre for pharmaceutical education and research in Wales. Its goals and activities are directed at improving the health, and alleviating the suffering from disease, of humankind.
A proportion of its researchers are dedicated to discovering from natural sources or producing in the laboratory potential new drugs, particularly for the treatment of cancer, cardiopulmonary diseases, dementias, and bacterial and viral infections. Recent achievements have included synthesis of the most potent chemical entity against Varicella zoster yet found, bringing the prospect of an effective treatment for chicken-pox and shingles, both caused by this virus. A rather different potential new therapy comes with the isolation in the School of a designed antibody (a monoclonal antibody) against an enzyme thought to cause or contribute to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The School’s research activities are directed at improving the health of people worldwide.
Other researchers address the delivery of both new and established drugs and vaccines to where they are needed in the body. This endeavour of drug delivery is to achieve optimum concentration of drug for the necessary duration of time, for example at a group of malfunctioning cells or to stimulate the body's immune system or to act at the site of an infection. The closer the targeting of drug achieved, the greater the effectiveness of treatment and the lower the chances of unwanted side-effects from the drug unnecessarily acting on healthy systems. A particular interest is the delivery of large molecules, as might be used for 'gene therapy', across membrane barriers in the body, for example the blood-brain barrier or the skin. As well as improved effectiveness of drug treatment, new approaches can bring greater convenience for the patient. In the case of microneedles being studied in the School, these devices might replace ordinary hypodermic needles for some purposes. Their use is painless and does not require a trained doctor or nurse; extremely useful in the developing world.
Complementary to this research, efforts are also focused on understanding fundamental mechanisms of bodily function, disease and therapies, e.g. understanding the actions and mechanisms of drugs in diseases of the cardiopulmonary system (such as asthma, myocardial infarction). The School's Tenovus Cancer Research Centre has made strong contributions to understanding the processes by which cancers spread throughout the body and to understanding how and why it is that some cancers inherently or quickly come to resist treatment by drugs. The hope is that research findings will lead to ideas for new, more effective drugs and how better to use existing drugs.
Research close to the clinical setting, into how drugs can be used most effectively in medical practice, is undertaken by the Centre for Socioeconomic Research in the School. A main area of expertise of the Centre is the application of quality of life indicators to judging the effectiveness of drug therapies. The School also pioneers practical approaches to controlling microbial infection in healthcare. Similarly close to the clinic will be the School’s contribution to the new multi-centre and multi-disciplinary UK Centre for Burns Research.